With a big snowstorm forecast, I broke out my Flip video camera and tried to document the storm from start to finish. Here’s the result:
In my last post, I discussed how scientists have been able to prove that the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to human activity. It’s now time to discuss why carbon dioxide matters. Below is a chart from the IPCC of radiative forcings, which I explain below.
Before I can explain forcings, there is an important concept that we need to remember from high school physics: every system is in an energy equilibrium (the second law of thermodynamics). This applies to the Earth, meaning that the Earth must radiate as much energy as it absorbs. Translated into what actually happens, the Earth must emit as much energy as it absorbs from the sun, meaning that if the amount it absorbs rises, the Earth’s temperature must rise to compensate.
A forcing is anything that perturbs that balance, by either raising or lowering the amount of energy the Earth absorbs from the sun. Positive forcings raise that amount, mostly by trapping sunlight that has already entered the Earth’s atmosphere and has been reflected off the Earth’s surface, preventing it from escaping into space. Negative forcings raise the albedo of the Earth, meaning that they increase the amount of sunlight the Earth reflects. read more »
A stereoscopic view: The Ladd and Whitney Monument and burial site in Lowell Massachusetts decorated in remembrance.
As the nation is about to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War, E. J. Dionne, Jr. sounds a warning in his Washington Post column. Don’t spin the story – get it right!
The Civil War is about to loom very large in the popular memory. We would do well to be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or long-standing myths to cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart…
Why does getting the story right matter? As Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s recent difficulty with the history of the civil rights years demonstrates, there is to this day too much evasion of how integral race, racism and racial conflict are to our national story. We can take pride in our struggles to overcome the legacies of slavery and segregation. But we should not sanitize how contested and bloody the road to justice has been. We will dishonor the Civil War if we refuse to face up to the reason it was fought.
Read Dionne’s full Washington Post column here.
Poised to become the longest serving woman in Senate history, Barbara Mulkoski elected in 1986 has served for 24 in the U. S. Senate representing the state of Maryland. She invited CNN for to her Senate office for an interview to reflect on her tenure — especially her efforts to empower other women.
When she arrived in 1986, Mikulski was one of only two women in the Senate. She was the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right.
“Other women had served in the Senate, but they had succeeded the unexpired term. They usually had a husband who passed away,” she recalls.
When she is sworn in for a fifth term in January, Mikulski will become the longest serving woman in Senate history, breaking the 24-year record held by the late GOP Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine.
Read the full interview with Dana Bash here.
In December 1961, “Glamour” magazine published a prose sketch by Jack Kerouac called “Home at Christmas” in which he recalls a blizzardy holiday scene from his youth in Pawtucketville. The writing is loose and lyrical in his spontaneous prose mode. Following is an excerpt from the sketch, which is available in the book “Good Blonde & Others,” a collection of short fiction, essays, articles, and sketches compiled by editor Don Allen of Grey Fox Press in 1993 with the cooperation of John Sampas, representing the Kerouac Estate.—PM
“It’s a Sunday afternoon in New England just three days before Christmas—Ma’s making the roast in the kitchen range, also tapioca pudding so when Sister Nin comes in from outdoors with the shovel she’s been wielding in the blizzard there are cold waves of snowy air mixing with the heat steams of tapioca over the stove and in my mouth I can taste whipped cream cold from the icebox on the hot pudding tonight.
“While Ma cooks she also sits at the round kitchen table reading the “Boston American”—Pa’s in the parlor playing the Gospel Singers of Sunday cigarsmoke funnies time—I’m getting ready to take my big blizzard walk into the Massachusetts Shroud begins just down the end of dirt road Phebe Avenue, I’m rummaging in the closet for my hockey stick which will be my walking-stick and feeling-stick to find where puddles and creeklets have disappeared under two feet of snow this day.
. . .
“I start out, down the porch steps, overshoes, woolcap, coat, corduroy pants, mittens—There are Christmas wreaths in all the windows of sweet Phebe—No sign of G. J. or Billy with the kids sliding on the park slope, no sign of them on their porch except G. J.’s sister in her coat all wrapped communing with the plicking fall of vast snows in a silence all her own, girl-like, watching it pile on the porch rail, the little rills, sadnesses, mysteries—She waves—I plod down off our Sis-shoveled walk into Mrs. Quinn’s unshoveled walk where the going is deep, profound, happy—No shoveled walks all the way to Billy’s where bigbrother sixfoot Jack has worked in muffler with pink cheeks and white teeth, laughing—Black birds in the black cherry tree, and in the new snow breadcrumbs, bird tweak tracks, a little dot of kitty yellow, a star blob of plopsnow ball against Old MacArthur’s wreathy front door—O the clean porches of New England in the holy dry snow that’s drifting across new painted planks to pile in corners over rubber doormats, sleds, overshoes—The steam in the windows, the frost, the faces looking out—And over the sandbank now and down on semi-snow-plowed Phebe comes the great fwoosh of hard stormwind from the river cracking leafless shrubs in stick-unison, throwing swirls of coldsifted powder, pure, the freezing freshness everywhere, the sand frozen solid underneath—. . . .”
This poem comes from my days living in Pawtucketville in the 1980s. It was first published in “The Spanner,” the news bulletin of the now-Independent University Alumni Association at Lowell, related to UMass Lowell.—PM
214 Sixth Avenue
Bright snow at midnight in the shut-down neighborhood,
Mute homes of folks I can’t name, but the storm made it clear,
Filling every open space, that we’re on top of each other
In the many-storied blocks tied to long black power lines
And banked with a monster drift, which the twirling lamp
Of a truck plow turns gold as the chains clank past.
—Paul Marion (c) 1989
The snow began in Lowell yesterday at 3:30 pm. By 8 pm, about 4 inches had fallen. Throughout the night the wind was howling. At 5 am today, it looks like another 6 inches fell overnight. I’m heading out soon to clear the cars and the driveway and will report back later. In the meantime, please leave your storm-related comments and observations here.